Video: Top Telstra execs work call centre shift


We’d like to offer a round of congratulations to Telstra’s senior management team — including chief executive David Thodey and CFO John Stanhope, who recently took a crash course in Telstra customer service and got their hands dirty in one of the company’s call centres for an afternoon. It’s very, very few executives that would eat humble pie like this to learn how their business *really* functions, and this sort of effort should be applauded.

Telstra Business chief Deena Shiff gets points for looking the most uncomfortable but soldiering on, whereas Thodey himself went in for the upsell jugular straight away — going after a Vodafone conversion. “We’d love to have your Vodafone phone as well,” he told one customer in that silky smooth voice.

Optus, TPG, Vodafone, iiNet … the ball’s in your court. We’re pretty sure Internode MD Simon Hackett’s been out there in the trenches for a decade now.


  1. I’d be surprised if Simon Hackett has taken a front line call in the last few years – he didn’t in my time there.

  2. We had something like this at my work place. Everyone in the IT Department did a days rotation through the Service Centre, was a real eye opener for 2nd and 3rd level support staff.

  3. I like the idea behind some of these things, it’s good to see manager’s being able to do the work of the “frontline” employees.

    However the video had all of the trainers/buddies all as “Sales Consultants”, rather than Accounts/Support Consultants? Wouldn’t it be more an accurate representation of the “grunt work” to have the Executives doing Support/Accounts calls, where one would more typically find customer complaints.

  4. If this kind of thinking is truly permeating the company rather than just being a PR stunt, then one has to congratulate the upper management on taking positive steps towards improving service levels. Promising signs from Telstra. Other large corporations should take note!

  5. Great initiative Telstra – should be applauded.

    Michael Malone (iiNet) has been doing this for years, but I should remember to bring the cameras in next time.

  6. Pfft. Blatant publicity stunt.

    After spending years in customer service, I can safely say that this is a standard practice in the industry. Most well-run telcos, ISPs or similar companies in Australia will have “people of note” go into the trenches and rub shoulders with the plebs on an annual basis. It gives the grunts the illusion that they’re as important as upper management – sorry, what I really meant to say is that it gives upper management the illusion that their easily replaceable minions are under the illusion that they are as important to the business as their superiors.

    What I find concerning that they’re celebrating this *now*. Other service providers have been doing this for years (albeit without blowing their own horn on YouTube about it). Whats next, a self congratulatory video about how Telstra offer itemised phone bills?

    C’mon Renai, theres no news here!

    • I’m not saying it’s news … but I do think the video was interesting! What, you didn’t enjoy seeing the creme de la creme of Telstra executives humbling themselves in a call centre? ;)

  7. “Everyone in the IT Department did a days rotation through the Service Centre, was a real eye opener for 2nd and 3rd level support staff.”

    The real level 3 techs all remember their horrible days in the field and / or helpdesk too vividly to need any kind of refresher LOL

  8. How embarrassing to actually have to disclose through YOUTUBE that you’re “so anxious about customer service” that this kind of activity becomes necessary.

    Are Telstra suggesting that a customer’s experience is superior when a “C” level employee serves them ? What a waste of resource…again ! (still ?)

    I suspect the real story here is centered on Thodey’s need to have his broader team feel that they are well supported, have a real chance at retaining their slipping audience, and that they could potentially well become (again) the telco powerhouse they once were.

    Horizons are a funny motivator when they’re behind you David.

    Oh…and the price of oil is going down don’t you know.

    Reality does not change it’s mind and suddenly become fantasy or revert to history.

    Confused and poorly served customers, underperforming share price, weakening brand presence…realities.

    P.S. Like me I’m sure you know Telstra employees who continue to report their experience of the internal waste at Telstra. One of my old mates had a $600/day job moving formulae around and Excel sheet. Nice work if you can get it !

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